Japan's All Nippon Airways Nearly Flips Over Mid-Air Due to Pilot Error

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September 30, 2011 9:49 AM EST

The All Nippon Airways Co. (ANA) issued a public apology on Wednesday over a near-accident involving one of its passenger planes on Sept. 6 because a pilot pressed the rudder trim control button instead of the one unlocking the cockpit door causing the plane to nearly flip over.

ANA Senior Executive Vice President Shin Nagase made the apology and bowed deeply in front of TV cameras in a gesture of regret during a news conference after the Japan Transport Safety Board released its investigative report on the incident that hurt two flight attendants. The press conference to make the apology followed the welcome party for the delivery of ANA's first Boeing Co. 787 Dreamliner jets.

The safety board found that the 38-year-old co-pilot of the Boeing 737-700 taking 117 people from Naha in Okinawa to Tokyo was supposed to open the cockpit door so his co-pilot could enter after using the toilet. But the co-pilot apparently hit the wrong button and "the plane tipped more than 130 degrees to the left at one point and dived about 1,900 meters in 30 seconds," according to The Wall Street Journal.

The pilots quickly stabilized the plane and landed it safely in Tokyo.

Aside from hurting two flight attendants, some passengers got air sick or suffered neck pains, though they were unaware of what happened because it was dark outside. The incident occurred at 10:50 p.m.

ANA promised to avoid the same mistake by requiring pilots to double check the position of control buttons when leaving and returning to the cockpit.

The board is continuing its investigation of the incident.

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